In celebration of their new album, didi took some time to chat with TGE about the record, the importance of using your platform, and sandwiches. Find the interview, and a Guest Mix below.
The Grey Estates: When you had originally formed, you were trying to use music to grapple with life’s frustrations. What were you trying to work through or explore on this newest release?
Kevin: That’s a huge question to start off with. I think we all had a lot that we were working through. I was thinking about how to feel happy and satisfied with who I was. About how hostile things were becoming for immigrants. I was thinking more about my mom, who came to this country from Colombia and had to fight to get us everything we had. I know meg was dreading the passing of and then actually mourning her nana. Leslie was similarly grieving the loss of a very important mentor in her life. Sheena, though she didn’t write lyrics this time around, is such an important part of making our songs what they are. Sheena’s such a strong woman who has overcome and continues to overcome so many obstacles. I think that comes through in her drumming on this album. Her parts are so meticulous and powerful. When I hear them it just sounds like catharsis.
You also touched on some really important issues like gender, class, and race. Why did you decide to explore those subjects through song? And what role do you think musicians should play in broaching these topics?
Sheena: Nina Simone has a great quote answering a question like this that everyone should google if you don't already know it, but I feel ignoring these subjects in writing or song can mean never grasping entire facets of your experience. You miss out on so much. Subjects like gender, race and class invoke great intensity, so I think we miss out on a lot of perspective by turning away from how these things affect us. I know that as kids we all started getting politicized and/or active pretty early, so it's a language we have ready at our disposal. We are just singing about ourselves. I can understand why some musicians would not feel equipped to sing on these things, and i think that's totally cool, but, on the other hand, it should not have taken like Taylor Swift so long to publicly declare something as basic as "racism is bad" for fear of alienating her white fan base! Balance?
What was the recording and writing process like for this album? Do you have a place that you prefer to write and create in?
Kevin: The writing process for this album was the same as with the last album, actually. One person would write the skeleton of a song and then bring it to Meg’s basement where everyone else would then play along and figure out their parts. Then Sheena would come and add the drums and everyone’s eyes would light up because we knew we had a didi song. We talked more about the theme of the album this time around. We talked about jellyfish and the cycles of the moon. We talked about change and the things that leave lasting impressions on our lives. We put a lot more of ourselves into these songs, I think.
We gave ourselves a bit more time to do it all. We went to a local recording studio called Musicol and worked with Keith Hanlon, someone we trusted deeply. We spent an entire weekend recording the music live and over dubbing vocals. We ate snacks and kept each other laughing. Then we mixed the songs for what felt like forever. We spent so many weekends making sure it was perfect. Honestly, thinking about it makes me dizzy. We did it together though, and I think you can hear all that teamwork on the album.
What are some of the musicians, places, things, foods, etc. that inspired this record?
Leslie: The things that inspired this album are like little floating treasures we came across while navigating a big ocean. We weren't necessarily looking for them. But, as it turns out, when you spend days, weeks, and months with your best friends certain things start to stand out. Like... Vegan fried chicken sandwiches. Polar seltzer. Boiled peanuts (cajun!). Coca-Cola in glass bottles. Aye Nako, Try the Pie, Speedy Ortiz,...jellyfish, whales, spiders, crabs and other crustaceans, the ocean waves, the lunar cycle, astrological charts, flowers (especially roses) and botany, butterflies and their metamorphoses! Death, the seasons as we experience them in the midwest, other languages like Spanish and Japanese, the whole dang world.
Do you have a personal favorite track on the record or one that you’re really proud of?
Meg: I cried first time "beached" was played back to me! I think it was the cello, the temperamental cymbal swells and the visuals it gave me - all piecing together and honoring a story of survival.
What does this record represent for you as a band, and how does it differ from what you’ve released before?
Sheena: This album comes off as more assertive than the last one, so it represents a more stable identity for us as a band. Part of that process however has been individually allowing ourselves at times to completely break down in front of each other during practice or in the studio or in the van, etc. Being supported through individual crisis moments makes the whole band stronger and open at the same time, which is ideal for engaging creative flow. For every identity loss there's a stronger one's a-comin', i guess!
What’s one piece of advice for our readers?
Leslie: Explore this beautiful planet. Be kind to it and others. Make waves. Play loud. Connect with others. Say "thank you" to everyone who helps you along your journey.